Communist-era apartment buildings from the former Soviet Union are some of the ugliest edifices in the world, but Ukrainian painter Valery Haroun managed to turn one of them into a marvelous art gallery.
The apartment building in Odessa, Ukraine looks pretty ordinary from afar, but as you draw near the entrance, you realize there’s something special about it. The building’s door has been painted to look like that of a palace, the bland concrete pillars look like old temple columns and there’s a mural of naked Aphrodite looking right at you. Pretty unusual, but we’ve all seen graffiti artworks on apartment buildings, right? But it’s actually the interior of this place that’s truly stunning. Each of its nine floors is covered with colorful artworks, from reproductions of Claude Monet and Victor Vasnetsov, to postcard illustrations and cartoons like Winnie the Pooh and Madagascar.
But why would an artist unleash his talents on the inside of a common apartment building, where the only people who can admire his works are the inhabitants? Well, because he was asked by the people living there. According to Dumskaya.net, the story of this unique art project started four years ago, when instead of the usual dull repainting , the building’s administration opted for something a little more decorative. One of the building’s inhabitants, Natalia, told everyone about a former colleague of hers who graduated from the Odessa School of Art, and they all agreed to have him paint the first few floors just to see if he was any good. When he was done, Valery Haroun was practically begged to finish the rest of the apartment building, as people started showering him with requests for their floors.
Although he worked very fast and paintings simply appeared over night, the building’s interior took Valery over three years to finish, because he would often leave to see his family in his home village. But, when the urban project was completed, it changed both the lives of the people living there and that of the artist. Tenants reported they stopped using the elevators so much and took the stairs more often to look at the colorful masterpieces, and Haroun was bombarded with requests to paint schools, kindergartens and even private homes.
Ever since word of the unique art project spread around Odessa, the building has been dubbed the “House of Artists”, and prices of apartments have gone up considerably.